Is Your Induction Programme Up to Date?

January 18, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-inductionprogramme

How long ago has it been since you developed your induction programme? When was it last updated?

Human Resources teams are usually quite good at putting together an induction programme from scratch; however, updating the programme is not always one of the priorities. There are usually some statutory  matters to cover; for example, in relation to health and Safety, but other information may not be routinely reviewed.

If an organisation attracts a lot of new staff who may not be familiar with their role, the organisation, or the industry, introducing some pre-induction materials can be very helpful. This would reduce the normal anxiety in turning up for their first day as they already have some information. The organisation will have to consider what level of information it is appropriate to share, for example should new senior colleagues receive a copy of the strategy and progress towards the KPIs?

Contingent on the role, it may be helpful to introduce new colleagues to their mentor in advance of their arrival, this is particularly useful when colleagues are moving from overseas and need recommendations in terms of potential areas to live in and/or schools. A further benefit of the pre-induction approach is that new colleagues will get a positive first impression of how work is organised and supported. 

The first stage of refreshing the induction programme is to get feedback from colleagues who have recently been through the process. This could be executed through nformal conversations or more formally through focus groups. Alternatively, a survey could be distributed. Valuable data could also be gained from existing colleagues who deliver any part of the induction programme.

Key questions to get responses to:

  • What worked well?
  • Where do you think we could improve?
  • How did you find the scheduling of the induction?
  • How would you evaluate the mode of delivery e.g. face to face, online, independent reading?
  • What would it have been helpful to know that we don’t cover at the moment?

In a world where people are moving in-between jobs more than ever before, recruitment and induction can seem like it takes place on a weekly basis. The HR team will need to consider how this should be approached as well as reflect on any key themes that emerge from gathering the feedback.

The next step is to gather all the information that is normally distributed to new staff so that it can be objectively reviewed, this should include an overall schedule of what takes place and when. At this stage it is helpful to have at least a couple of people involved to aid objectivity.

Key considerations

  • What do staff need to know? 

In the first instance, the HR team should be focusing on the bigger organisation-wide information, which should include practical information (e.g. how they will get paid, use photocopier etc) as well as an overview of the organisation. Then, Departments and teams should be responsible for delivering more role-specific information, but to enable consistency, it is recommended that the HR team produce templates.

  • When do staff need to know information? 

It is important to try not to overwhelm new colleagues by covering a huge number of different topics. Clearly there are some areas such as health and safety and finding the way around the building that should take place on the first day, but there may be other areas where it would be more appropriate to deliver later. To avoid induction fatigue there could be either a weekly session or a gap of a couple of weeks whilst they get used to their new role.

  • Who should deliver the induction? 

The HR team would generally provide the introductory sessions and, if possible, invite a leadership team member to welcome them to the organisation. Ideally the programme will be delivered by a range of people who are the experts in their area. However, it is recognised that this may cause a pragmatic issue, for example, in finding diary slots.

  • To what extent could you embrace technology?

There are now some interesting induction programmes that can be delivered online, for example fire safety where at the end they need to pass a test based on what they have learned. Other options would be to use podcasts or videos – this would help to overcome the diary issues, particularly from the senior staff.

An induction checklist could be provided to new employees to recognise the breadth and depth of the support they have been provided with. It would also be good practice to give them an opportunity to provide feedback and recommendations.

It is always important to consider individual circumstances; for example, if someone is returning to the organisation, they won’t necessarily need the organisation-wide information. The mode and delivery of induction may also be differentiated for the appointment of new senior colleagues, though there is also value in them meeting all their new colleagues at the same time.

Professor Fiona Robson

Head of Edinburgh Business School and Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai

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